Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick note from my family’s home in Dallas wishing all my readers a great thanksgiving (yeah it’s late, but what else is new?). Go celibrate by heading to your local bar, tavern or honky-tonk and supporting the working musicians that are still sweating it out and bringing you the best damn music that the major lables try and make you forget about. Hoist a pint or shot for the passion, beauty and heartache that music can bring and flip a bird to the machine that trys to put out the flame. 


Faith Hill is pissed,and I’m right there with her. On Monday night on the 40th annual CMA show (or as I like to call it the singing dancing parade of crap) during the female vocalist of the year segment they had all the nominees compiled on the screen ready for the money shot. When American Idol county music fem-bot Carrie Underwood was announced as the winner Diva Faith Hill was obviously peeved and mouthed “WHAT!?” into the camera, arms flailing, before walking out of the camera shot.

I’m with you there Faith. Underwood winning female vocalist of the year is like Larry the Cable Guy becoming the head of Mensa.

As much as I sometimes like Gretchen Wilson (one of the nominees) my nominees for this category would be more like Julie Roberts, Allison Moorer, Nico Case, Jenny Lewis (with the Watson Twins) and Rosanne Cash. These woman have more talent in one pedicured fingernail than the manufactured country-pop-drek that these nominees got nominated for. Pipes, looks and hunky singer husbands aren’t enough, where’s the PASSION? Where’s the HEARTACHE? Where’s the AUTHENTICITY?!

Most awards shows for music celebrate the popular and the mediocre. How many of these women will have the staying power of Dolly or Loretta. Not a damn one of ’em.

see the whole thing here:

Billy Ray Frikin Cyrus! WTF!!!

In case you forgot how lame pop-country charts/radio/TV and the big Nashville labels have become I just noticed on one of those homogenous “top 20 Video Count Downs” that Mr. Achy Breaky himself (comin in at #5 no less), Billy Ray Cyrus has got him an image consultant, used some awesome Maxim hair dye and a three-day beard and crept back on the charts with limp little piece called “Average Joe.” (I guess he got tired of being a doctor on TV.) This is a new low even for this pathetic fucking bunch!

Gary Allan Opening for Rascal Flatts

Gary Allan is a great artist with a voice and a sincerity that can really draw you into a story. The man took a personal tragedy (the suicide of his wife) and turned it into a theraputic, personal and exceptional album “Tough All Over.”

I’m sure Allan’s current opening slot with Rascal Flatts will allow him good exposure to a wider audience. Too bad the pain caused by the pop-country swill of the Flatts will make me to miss him when he’s here at Madison Square Garden on the 16th.

Hey Gary, when you’re done opening for a band not worthy of carrying your gear come back through on your own and I’ll be front and center. 

AMA Conference – Tuesday, 19th

After arriving in Nashville on Tuesday I was dismayed to discover there were no more rental cars to be had on site without a prior reservation. Three years in New York City has skewed my expectations on public transportation and led to my piss poor planning and not booking a car earlier.

Mt Uncle Tony Lane picked me up on this beautiful, sunny Tennessee day in his big, black Tacoma truck. Agter a detour to his home, my Uncle, who is a local songwriter (Trace Adkins, George Strait, to name couple) and I headed over to the 3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill to get a beer and wait for some old friends of his from high-school to fly in from Dallas on their personal plane to eat some BBQ. We caught a show by a friend of Tony’s and had some good old Shiner (Not available in New York, though Lone Star is. Go figure.)

The BBQ place was closed on Tuesdays so we headed up a street a way and ate at a great hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex joint advertising the “Best Margaritas” (they weren’t.) The food was greasy good, they had a killer Mexican shrimp cocktail and the good old boys reminisced about late nights in Dallas bars.

Later that night I was lucky enough to attend a guitar pull at the legendary Bluebird Café. Besides my Uncle Tony there was Victoria Banks (“Saints and Angels”), Dave Turnbull (“If Something Should Happen”) and Dallas Davidson (“Honkytonk Badonkadonk.”)

The Bluebird is a very ordinary place in a strip mall a little out of town. It looks like the type of place your Grandparents might take you for breakfast when you visit (assuming Grandma’s not up for cooking.) The Bluebird and the crowd that comes to hear the performers are all about the music. Theirs is absolutely NO TALKING during the songs. No “blah blah blah” as some poor girl or guy with a guitar tries to pour their heart out as a crowd of drunken idiots use them as background music. This was a music lover’s Xanadu.

After that, how could it possibly get batter? How about a round of beer and tequila at the Corner Bar with the Bluebird performers and Gary Hannon, a South African and great guy that penned the #1 Joe Nichols hit “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”

Yeah, I know that the Americana community at large has a certain disdain for pop-country, but the songwriters that work for the machine are as authentic and passionate about their craft as any folkster.

The night was young (1 am), but I needed my sleep for the conference.


Home Again

So I’m back from the Americana Music Association conference and the awards ceremony that was held at the historic Ryman Auditorium. I met some great people, saw a lot of great music, learned a thing or twoand might be tapped to be on a panel next year (something called big, fat opinions for fun and profit, I believe.)

I’ll post much more soon after I get my bearings. Just a quick note, While waiting for my plane I was juggeling a sandwich and water in the check-out line of one of thise overpriced airport shops. As I’m paying for my grub I take a look around and standing right behind me is Alejandro Escovedo, sharply dressed as usual and with big dark glasses and his guitar case in hand.

Hanging in the Nashville airport is not a bad way to pass the time.

My CMT Crossroads Experience

Due to shear dumb luck I was able to attend an invitation only taping of Country Music Television’s “Crossroads” programs featuring, get this, Rosanne Cash and Steve Earle. I know, holy shit!

Crossroads is toutied as bridging country music and rock music. Past duets have been more like the meeting of both genres most bland, like the pairing of Bon Jovi and Sugarland. And some pair one great (Hank Williams Jr / ZZ Top) with a dud (Kid Rock / Brooks & Dunn). But sometimes they do it right like with their partnership of Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello, Ryan Adams and Elton John (!) and with this show.
I’ve been a fan of Earle’s since the mid-80’s when he was riding high on his first three releases and I’ve seen him once since being in New York. Rosanne Cash I’ve wanted to see mostly out of curiosity – how does the offspring of a legend stack up?
The filming was done in the 100 year-old, Mason-built Manhattan Grand Center Ballroom off 34th near Madison Square Garden. The Ballroom is now owned by the Unification Church which is led by Rev. Sun Myung Moon (I wonder if the Earle, a celebrated Left-winger, knew he was performing in a hall owned by a  Right-wing wacko)
The program director came out and had the audience run through a litany of laughter, appease and standing applause shots for the cameras and then the show was on.
The show started with Earle’s “Guitar Town” which also ended the show. Because of the magic of television if a performer, or typically the director, doesn’t care for a performance it’s simply done again. Real concerts don’t get “do overs” but the songs were so great I didn’t mind.
Other song covered were Earls “Devil’s Right Hand” and Cash’s “Burn Down This Town” and “House On The Lake” from her newest release “Black Cadillac.” The two also did a nice cover Rosanne’s Daddy’s “Big River.”
I left buzzed by being a part of Country-Rock history and taking some small comfort that Country Music Television doesn’t completely suck.

Alt.Country is Dead part 2

More bullshit on how alt.country (or as I like to call it GOOD country) is dead. Basically cribbed from the New York Times article. I say good riddance. It was always a marketing and branding disaster. I say we dig in our spurs and claim the banner of Country back from the Big & Rich pop-idiot sideshows and milquetoast ballods of Kenny Chesney. There are planty of people not officially sanctioned by Music City or whatever their playing off the list at corporate 102FM. Fuck the alt.country moniker and fuck the crappy musical culture that caused the balkanisation in the fist place. It’s time to name pop country what it is…shit.

Chick Talk

The Dixie ChicksThere’s a great article on the Dixie Chicks fracas from Dave White at MSNBC. The gist is that if you were offended by what Natalie Maines said in London three years ago and are still carting a grudge even though now a majority of Americans now agree with her, well, tough noogies!

As much as their new CD “Taking the Long Way” initially left me cold with it’s more adult contemporary sound, the lyrics and the defiant spirit has me coming back to listen to it again and again. I even plunked down a hefty fee to see the Chicks at Madison Square Garden this August.